Thursday, January 3

Review: The Aquatic Adventure of the Last Human [Nintendo Switch eShop]

While I’ve played quite a number of Metroidvania-style titles over time I can’t say I’ve played one underwater. As a lone survivor who flew out to space for an unspecified amount of time and has returned to Earth you find that humanity apparently ended up going under water at some point and the world is in ruins. Starting out with nothing but your pretty incapable base submarine you’ll set out in search of upgrades and answers to what happened.

At a high level this game is a slow burn boss rush title that will have you exploring, trying to figure out what areas you can safely access, grabbing upgrades when you can find them, and piecing together a narrative of what happened in pieces. While there are some things that can hurt you as you move around most things you’ll just need to dodge or disable, what tends to kill you are the game’s boss fights. In particular early on I found this a bit jarring, without any real introduction or getting your bearings you’ll get your harpoon upgrade and then immediately need to use it. For the most part things from there are very similar, you’ll need to figure out where you can go, find upgrade crates when you can for attribute boosts along the way, and then encounter a boss fight before or after you acquire a new ability to help you get into new and different areas. Finding info pods along the way you’ll gain pieces of the overall narrative picture, though I wouldn’t say anything is terribly shocking and the message of environmentalism is a bit heavy-handed.

My greatest issue with the game is that none of it is too terribly fun, though people in search of a challenge will certainly find it here, just maybe not for the right reason. For the most part your submarine is ill-equipped for these fights, and winning becomes a matter of understanding what patterns there are, positioning yourself well to get off shots that will chip away at their health, and then a fair degree of luck. You’re simply not very nimble by comparison and with many deaths it feels like the game reminding you that your victories are only those it allows since many attacks decimate your hull armor and you won’t have time for it to replenish. Aside from the combat you’ll waste a lot of time meandering around and trying to figure out where you’re meant to go. Though there’s a map there’s no real guidance so while the environments all have nice pixel art and look pretty cool bumping through them repeatedly in the hopes of figuring out where to go next diminishes their charm.

In the end The Aquatic Adventure of the Last Human is a decent but bare bones Metroidvania experience whose greatest asset is just being a little different. People who like to be challenged may find the tough bosses to be a fun test of skill but the dead periods in between as you figure out where to go would probably detract from the enjoyment for them. It’s not a bad title, it’s just hard to get excited about it when there are just better and more fleshed out titles available in the eShop.

Score: 6

  • Just a very different overall environment, setting, and feel with some nice pixel art
  • If you don’t mind the environmentalism kick the story of what happened is at least different
  • Once you finally get some upgrades you feel a bit more capable

  • A lot of time spent somewhat aimlessly moving around and hoping to find where you’re supposed to be able to go next
  • In particular the early boss fights make your sub feel very sluggish and incapable, making getting through them feel like more of a product of luck than skill
  • It just all feels a bit bare bones